Paws for Mental Health (PMH) is a student-led organization at UC Berkeley that advocates for mental health awareness and aims to remove the stigma surrounding it through our wonderful canine companions.
Our mission is to promote an environment that supports the ability of students to set aside the daily rigors of academia and unwind. We educate and advocate for optimal mental health since the unconditional love of a dog can relieve feelings of stress, anxiety, and/or depression. We address students’ well-being by partnering with other student organizations to extend our influence on campus.
The club was established in the fall of 2016 by Cal student Jaimie Kim. Having recently become a dog owner, Jaimie was struggling with balancing her college life with time spent with her dog. At the same time, she wanted to establish a place where people could talk about mental health and feel welcome. Recognizing the therapeutic qualities that spending time with her dog gave her, Jaimie decided to combine these passions into a student organization. With the help of fellow Cal student and dog owner Natsuki Takahari, the club was formed under the name De-Stress with Dogs.
Since then, the club has held regular tabling sessions, where students can relax with friendly dogs at Sproul Plaza, as well as fun events and fundraisers such as Puppy Polaroids, Barktober Fest and Dog Art Therapy, all in efforts to aid Cal students with the stresses of academic life.
In the Fall 2020 semester, the club was re-branded to Paws for Mental Health by Executive Chair Destiny Hsieh, not only to bring more attention to the issue of mental health, but also to show the UC Berkeley community that PMH strives to support Cal students’ wellbeing in a variety of ways, beyond the usual tabling sessions.
Since the return to in-person activities, PMH is out on campus every weekday to bring smiles to UC Berkeley students and collaborations with other campus clubs. PMH has its very own mental health newsletter sent out at the beginning of each month filled with research, interviews, and more. PMH also has taken on new outreach projects, including creating handmade pet hammocks and care packages for local animal shelters.